A Message From EQUS CEO Patricia Bourne
COVID-19 Community Sponsorships
One of EQUS’ core values is community, and in living this value, EQUS endeavors to support our members and the rural communities we serve through various programs and initiatives. In a normal year, this support would be in the form of sponsorship for community events, fundraisers, and Operation Round Up support for youth and seniors. So far, 2020 is looking to be a bit different.
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on non-profit and community groups will likely be felt over the months to come as the need for community-based support increases, while fundraising events that many non-profit groups rely on, have to be cancelled. To help support our rural communities, EQUS will be dedicating sponsorship funds to community organizations working to provide resources and support directly related to COVID-19.
EQUS will be looking to support those who are assisting seniors and vulnerable community members, schools, students and their families, local food banks and other organizations providing services to meet basic needs at a community level, and more. Building strong rural communities is important, and we believe that providing support to local organizations is a key factor in developing resilient communities. EQUS' normal Sponsorship and Donation program and Operation Round Up continue to accept applications for programs and initiatives not related to COVID-19 as well.
EQUS Summer Events Update
After much consideration, EQUS has made the difficult decision to cancel our Annual Charity Golf Tournament, Member Pancake Breakfasts, and Member BBQ events. These events typically take place between June and September, but this year they will not. Recommendations and restrictions from government health authorities regarding gatherings are expected to remain in place throughout the summer and as such, we have made the decision to cancel these events due to COVID-19. The health and safety of EQUS members, staff, and our communities is our top priority at this time.
While we always enjoy these opportunities to bring EQUS members together and raise funds for charity, it simply isn’t safe to do at this time, and the EQUS team is looking forward to seeing members when we are able to. We continue to monitor updates from the government and to implement practices compliant with all regulations.
We are currently looking into alternative options for the Annual General Meeting which was postponed in the end of March. Please visit our Member Events page or check your monthly member newsletter for updates.
EQUS Essential Services Update
Last week, the Government of Alberta announced the closure of non-essential business throughout the province as one of the latest measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. As an electricity distribution provider, EQUS is considered an essential service and will continue to provide the high standard of service we always do.
EQUS has implemented several safety measures in accordance with government recommendations to help ensure the safety of our employees and communities while we maintain our operations and services at the usual level. The measures were implemented with the guidance of public health authorities and in alignment with the EQUS values of Quality, Accountability, Community and Knowledge, that guide our day-to-day business and operational decisions.
For the past two weeks EQUS staff who are able to work from home have been doing so. By implementing this work-from-home practice, we have managed to reduce the amount of staff on site, making the offices safer for those who do have to work in the office to support field staff. We have also implemented social distancing practices for those who remain in the office and for EQUS field staff who have adapted their working procedures to create safe work environments while working outside and in vehicles.
These proactive measures continue to be compliant with government recommendations and we are continuously monitoring evolving best practices and regulations and will align our operations accordingly. The health and safety of EQUS employees and our communities remains our top priority as we adapt our operations to ensure we continue keeping the lights on for EQUS members as an essential service while doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
Information about Utility Bill Deferral Programs
The Government of Alberta has announced a series of financial supports for Albertans affected by COVID-19 including the option to defer utility bill payments for 90 days (March 18 - June 18, 2020) for those who qualify. This program is available to Albertans who are experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19.
It is important to note that this program does not pay for any costs of utility bills on your behalf, it simply defers them, with the outstanding balance not owing until the end of the 90-day period.
As a co-operative, EQUS believes in the value of neighbours helping neighbours, especially in tough times such as these. Our co-operative was built in this spirit and we will continue to provide sustainable and flexible support to our members through this outbreak.
EQUS is committed to working with members who may require help during this time, and to ensuring that we minimize the impact to our co-operative as a whole. We will work with those members who require support to develop suitable payment arrangements, and to connect them with other applicable supports through existing programs like Alberta Works.
EQUS will ensure that the lights stay on in rural Alberta and ensure that we support the collective sustainability of co-operative electricity distribution for all EQUS members.
EQUS members seeking more information about payment arrangements or the deferral program can call their Member Service Administrator at 1.888.211.4011.
EQUS Office Closures - March 17, 2020
IMPORTANT NOTICE: As part of our efforts to keep EQUS employees, members, and our communities safe and healthy, all EQUS offices will be closed to visitors for the time being due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
EQUS is committed to continuing to provide the high standard of service that we always do for our members and our communities and we are also committed to doing our part to slow the spread of the virus in our communities.
While EQUS offices are not currently accepting guests, EQUS staff will be working in the offices, the field, and remotely when possible, and we are continuing with all scheduled maintenance and construction work at this time. There will be no impact to the services provided or to outage restoration times as a result.
The team at EQUS is monitoring the situation and meeting daily to ensure that we are responding to the most current health and safety recommendations from our government health authorities. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our members and communities as we navigate these tricky times.
EQUS staff will be happy to provide assistance over the phone to meet the needs of our members and our community, business and government stakeholders.
Friday, March 13, 2020
As we have seen over the past week, the COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving here in Alberta and throughout the world. At EQUS we have worked over the past several days to gain as much understanding as possible as to how this virus could impact not just our employees and day-to-day operations, but also how this could affect our members, our communities and our business and government partners. A team has been established at EQUS to monitor the situation, respond to the recommendations from government health authorities as they are issued, and to develop plans to ensure that our employees and operations are safe and resilient.
The safety and wellbeing of EQUS employees is always our top priority. We are taking proactive measures to ensure that workspaces and offices are being cleaned and disinfected with increased frequency and we are actively limiting potential exposure opportunities. In accordance with government recommendations regarding gatherings we are postponing meetings and events such as the upcoming Annual General Meetings. Whenever possible meetings that are usually held in-person will be held via web or phone conference, and staff travel between offices will be limited to only what is necessary. Arrangements have been made to support staff in taking the necessary time off if they are unwell or have recently travelled out of the country.
We are considering and preparing for alternative work arrangements to ensure EQUS employees are supported and planning for all possible scenarios involving our offices and facilities. Contingency plans have been developed to ensure that we are able to continue to deliver the high standard of timely service our members rely on EQUS to deliver.
At this time, we ask that our members and guests to our offices please consider the safety and wellbeing of EQUS employees, their families, and their communities and refrain from visiting any EQUS office or facility if they are feeling unwell, have travelled or have possibly been exposed to COVID-19. Please call your Area Office if you have inquiries about billing and alternative methods of payment that are available.
While we are hopeful that the impacts of COVID-19 on our EQUS employees and communities are minimal and that the situation improves, we are preparing and taking proactive measures to ensure that the risks to our employees and operations are minimized and that we do our part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
The team at EQUS will continue to monitor evolving health and safety recommendations and will respond appropriately with the guidance of our organizational values and our longstanding commitment to our members and the rural communities we serve.
We appreciate the loyalty and understanding of our valued members and our business, community and government partners as we all navigate this situation as proactively as possible.
Updates will be provided as necessary.